Fairfax County Closes Loan for Silver Line Phase Two

First Silver Line train pulls in to Wiehle-Reston East/Credit: Mike Heffner, Vita ImagesFairfax County closed on a $403 million federal loan on Thursday, ensuring that the county will be able to pay for its portion of Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line.

Fairfax County, which obtained the loan through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program, received the second- lowest interest rate in the history of the federal TIFIA loan program — a 2.73 percent interest rate.

The loan will also help keep tolls stable for Dulles Toll Road users through 2018. Without it, there was fear a greater portion of rail costs would be borne by toll road users.

The first phase of the Silver Line, which opened in July, runs from McLean to Reston’s Wiehle Avenue. The second phase of the $5.6 billion project, set to open in 2018, will have stops at Reston Parkway, Herndon, Route 28, Dulles International Airport and Ashburn.

The loan will cover about 45 percent of the county’s total estimated $915 million share for building Silver Line Phase 2. It offers a competitive interest rate and flexible repayment terms. The county may defer payments for five years after the project is finished. Because the Silver Line is expected to be completed in 2018, the county anticipates making payments starting in 2023.

 “With Phase 1 on track to meet or even exceed ridership projections, I am very pleased to have approved low-interest federal financing for Phase 2,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova said yesterday.

“The funds made available through the TIFIA loan keep the project on target for completion in 2018 and reduce costs for toll road users and taxpayers. The Silver Line is vital to the economic growth of Fairfax County, the region and the Commonwealth, and I am proud of the work we’ve done to make it a reality.”

Fairfax plans to use two county sources to repay the loan: money from the Dulles Rail Phase 2 Transportation Improvement District and Commercial and Industrial Tax Fund. The county will apply $218.2 million from this voluntary tax district and $185.1 million in commercial and industrial taxes.

Loudoun County also closed on its $195 million TIFIA loan on Thursday. In August, the metropolitan Washington Airports Authority closed on its $1.28 billion portion.

“Today marks another significant milestone for Rail to Dulles as we finalize a very complex financing package for the project,” Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement. “I congratulate all of our partners on this successful step.  Now we can shift our focus to completing construction as soon, as efficiently and as safely as possible.”

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